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Senate Intelligence Committee: Federal agencies 'must do more' to protect against election hacking

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Federal law enforcement agencies must do more to help local governments protect themselves from election hacking, according to the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The warning came during a preview on Tuesday detailing the committee's findings and recommendations resulting from its more than year-long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It's just one portion of what committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr said will be a a extensive review.

"Russia was trying to undermine the confidence of our election system. We're here to express concerns but also confidence in our state and local governments," said Burr.

Russian hackers attempted to breach at least 30 state-run election systems, according to vice-chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). One of those attempts was successful, and eventually discovered.

"But it actually tool the Department of Homeland Security nearly nine months to notify the top election officials," said Warner.

The Senate investigation ran concurrently with the House Permanent Select Committee's probe, which concluded just over a week ago. The Senate's investigation has been comparatively less conspicuous, and less controversial. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who headed the House's probe, said that there was "no evidence of collusion" that he could find throughout the investigation while appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday. The Republican majority then completed their final report, reportedly failing to notify Democratic members.

"By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the committee, in a statement.

In contrast, the Senate committee's press conference was bipartisan, and the recommendations they put forward apparently involved input from both sides.

Improving collaboration between federal and local government was the prime area of concern, which both Burr and Warner agreed needed significant improvement. Since the committee does not hold direct jurisdiction over issues like elections, Burr noted actual legislation may have to come from other congressional bodies. That said, he noted there may be additional grand funding that could be allotted to help alleviate the problem.

While the Senate investigation has been comparatively more quiet, it will likely be a topic of interest when the committee conducts its confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel, the Trump administration's appointee to take over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency for Mike Pompeo, who will move to a new role as secretary of State.

Tuesday's briefing served as a taste of what is likely to come as the committee holds a public hearing on the hacking issue on Wednesday.

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